Christie sets indoor world record

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ATHLETICS

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The world indoor 200 metres record was shattered by a Briton here yesterday. But it was Linford Christie, supposedly the short sprints specialist, who did it, rather than the British record holder, John Regis. Pleased was hardly the word.

Running in the outside lane which Bruno Marie Rose of France had occupied in setting the existing world mark of 20.36sec here eight years ago, Christie held off a desperate charge from the outdoor world champion, Frankie Fredericks, to set a new mark of 20.25. In doing so he became the first British sprinter to claim an individual world record for 35 years.

"It feels good," he said after what was his first competitive 200m in over a year. "There were some good runners out there. I didn't know what to expect. It was a case of going out and just running."

Both Christie and Fredericks were inside the previous world record on a track known for its speed - the Namibian recorded 20.26. Regis, who had approached this race with such high hopes having lowered his British record to 20.47 earlier this month, was a dazed figure afterwards as he wandered disconsolately on the infield while Christie disappeared in a scrum of interested parties.

Regis was initially credited with a time of 20.42, but lost even that consolation when he was disqualified for encroaching on Fredericks' lane as the Namibian surged past him in the final 20 metres.

Christie, who decided on Friday to add the longer sprint to his scheduled 60m here, only discovered that he had been admitted in the early hours of the morning when he arrived via Brussels from Vienna, where he had won a 60m in 6.62.

His spikes and running kit were even later than he was - left at Vienna airport and only turning up two hours before yesterday's meeting. And the world and Olympic 100m champion was running with back pain which has become sufficiently worrying for him to seek urgent treatment in Munich today.

All, apparently, perfect preparation for a man two months short of his 35th birthday to claim his first world record and the first claimed by a British sprinter since Peter Radford, now executive chairman of the British Athletic Federation, set new marks in the 220 yards and 200m in 1960.

Christie's afternoon had begun ideally as he won the 60m in 6.47, taking 0.01 off his European record of last year. "The 60 was the pressure," he said. "The 200 took everything off me. But there was still a little buzz after the 60."

Christie, whose previous best was 20.55, recalled watching Marie Rose's performance at the 1987 European Indoor Championships from the stand, having aggravated a hamstring in an earlier round of the 200m.

Afterwards the Frenchman attributed his time to three factors - the relative hardness of the track, the fact that the slope was no more than 20 degrees at any point, and - impossible to quantify - the psychological factor.

But even in the euphoric aftermath, as Christie packed his spikes carefully into his running bag and held court at the same time, he was not tempted to fit next month's World Indoor Championships into his schedule.

"I don't train for indoors," he said. "I just train for the outdoors. The English run indoors because it is cold outside."

He acknowledged the help he had got in training alongside Fredericks for a month in Australia earlier this year. "I have learned a lot from Frankie," he said. "When I got to Australia I realised that my technique was all wrong." The Namibian nearly caught him on the line. "I could see his knees coming," Christie said with a wide grin. "I just leaned and hoped."

Tony Jarrett became the second Briton to be frustrated by America's rising high hurdler, Allan Johnson, in the space of 10 days. Johnson's victory over Colin Jackson in a photo-finish at Madrid ended an unbeaten run of 44 races - although Jackson is still pursuing an appeal. As Jarrett leaned into the line yesterday he was assumed to be the winner in a time of 7.40.

Three minutes later it was confirmed that the winning time belonged to the 24-year-old from North Carolina, although Jarrett's 7.42 beat his own English record by 0.02.

n Christopher Winner, the International Amateur Athletic Federation spokesman, yesterday denied fresh hopes of an end to the four-year ban on Kenya's John Ngugi, five times the world cross-country champion. Ngugi, banned for refusing a random drugs test in February 1993, had hoped to benefit from the admission that the IAAF official concerned in his case had been struck off the British Sports Council's anti-doping list. But Winner said yesterday: "There is no `new defence'."

Liven results,

Sporting Digest, page 29

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